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Durability and compostability of bio-based thermoset composites

Commercial composites are often made from non-renewable materials and are difficult to recycle. Biocomposites are instead made of renewable materials such as bioplastics and natural fibers. This has been studied very intensively at both companies and universities. The University of Borås has conducted extensive research in this area. Hard plastics have been developed from renewable materials and these have since been reinforced with various renewable fibers such as flax fibers, hemp fibers and cellulose fibers. Tests have shown that these materials have relatively good mechanical properties.

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One important characteristic is the biodegradation. For certain types of composites, the biodegradation is desirable and these can then potentially be recovered by composting or digestion. For other applications, such as outdoor products, the biodegradation is not desirable. The composition of the composite will affect the rate of degradation and it is therefore important to be able to characterize biocomposites with respect to biodegradation and durability.